Many people, even professional actors, are stuck with the notion that they have to adopt a strange voice when getting into character and performing. There is a sense that you’re not really acting if your voice sounds completely normal, but this is definitely an over-simplification of what it means to act and it actually rarely helps at all. In many cases, adopting a “character” voice can simply make your performance sound a lot more wooden and less convincing. Here are some tips and common problems in this area.
Don’t be too tense
Relaxing your jaw and neck is very important if you want to sound natural when you speak. You can sometimes even see from looking at someone’s face from a distance that they’re tensing their facial muscles unnaturally. Your speech will sound much better if you can train yourself not to do this. Good posture also helps you project your voice which is essential in theatre work.
Don’t over-simplify your character
Even characters that seem somewhat simple will come across much better if you allow them to have depth and complexity when you speak. Your voice gives you infinite ways to express yourself, so try to make as much use of it as possible. Never restrict a character to a stereotypical, laboured voice unnecessarily.
Don’t compensate for yourself
It’s hard to hear our own voices sometimes, and we tend to be highly self-critical. However, you are not necessarily the best person to make a judgement on this when you’re trying to play a character. Don’t let your own insecurities influence how you play a character.
Let the audience engage with you
Above all, the benefit of being as natural as possible is that you’ll come across as a human being that your audience can actually connect with. Whatever emotion they feel towards your character, this is only possible when they’re able to suspend disbelief and feel as if you really are that person, rather than an actor giving a robotic performance.